The heritage of historic cableway installations
Switzerland is a country full of cableway installations (funicular railways, cable cars, gondola lifts, chairlifts, drag lifts, etc.). Some of these installations constitute a very significant technical heritage. It is therefore obvious that the heritage value of cable transport systems as important testimonies to technological prowess, as well as to engineering and architecture, must be recognised. However, for a long time these transportation systems were not regarded as historic monuments. An inventory drawn up in 2010 and published online (www.seilbahninventar.ch) classifies Swiss cable transportation systems according to technical, cultural, economic and historic criteria and describes the nationally and regionally significant installations, along with a section dedicated to recently constructed installations. The Federal Office of Culture, as the Confederation body dealing with the protection of historic monuments, thus has a basis for evaluating installations in relation to planning permission applications and the granting of concessions. However, heritage preservation issues still arise in connection with architectural projects and the legal procedures for granting planning permission or a concession: the protection and the preservation of these installations are proving to be very complex. At this stage, we have not succeeded in enforcing respect for the heritage value of installations when owners want to replace their historic installation with a new one or significantly alter it. We would also like to collect information on other European countries' experience relating to the protection of historic cableway installations.